“The average horse doesn’t need to be guided when he sees another horse coming the other way. He swerves to the right, as naturally as a bull-dog chases a tramp. What does the average man do when he suddenly meets another coming hurriedly in an opposite direction? He places himself squarely in front of him and then begins a series of side-steps, first to one side and then the other, in exact accordance with those of the man he is trying to pass, like the mirror pantomime in Hanlon’s Fantasma. Finally, both come to a standstill, facing each other, and one tries to execute a quick flank movement to the left. Just at this moment the other suddenly remembers that he would have avoided all this tomfoolery if he had only kept to the right, and tries to make good on this hypothesis. The result is that they bump into each other violently and begin side-stepping again. After another round or two of Terpsichorean gymnastics one of them breaks through the other’s guard and escapes and each continues on his belated way, thinking what an infernal idiot the other is.
“I have known men who gained international renown for their strategy and ‘sang froid’ on the battlefield; men whose calmness and deliberation have averted many a financial crisis and men whose marvelous executive capacity and keen insight into human affairs have won them great fortunes. I have seen these same men trying to pass other pedestrians in a narrow hallway and act in a way which would make a lunatic ashamed of himself.
“A drummer, who travels for a large Eastern jobbing concern, was once entering the establishment of a firm which always bought heavily from his house. One of the proprietors was just going out. They came together in the doorway, and, before they could pass each other, a rival salesman slipped by and sold the other partner a large bill of goods.
“Congress ought to pass an appropriation for the purpose of teaching people how to pass each other. If the surplus energy and brainwork consumed in this task under present methods were applied to some more useful purpose, a great reform movement would have been inaugurated.”
“I don’t want to achieve a reputation as a ‘knocker,’” said the Observer, knitting his brow thoughtfully, “but, I nevertheless, aver and maintain that the national evil of this great land is the mannish woman.
“No, I don’t mean the woman who can earn a living in some professional pursuit that has hitherto been monopolized by men. Why, with our male milliners, dressmakers, cooks, and what not, she has been driven to it by man himself. Even the servant girl has become a thing of the past, and the ‘help’ of the present day wears trousers,—not metaphorically, as his female predecessor was wont to do—but literally. However, I’m not going to discuss the servant-girl question. That is an old story and a painful one—almost as painful as the mannish woman.